EU’s Charles Michel says ‘moment of truth’ has come in Brexit trade talks

Negotiations on a Brexit trade deal have reached the moment of truth, the president of the European Council has said.

Charles Michel was in Dublin on Thursday for talks with Irish premier Micheal Martin.

Their discussions at Farmleigh House came with a week to go until a crunch European Council summit.

The sides are still at odds on issues such as state aid and fisheries.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set the summit date as an effective deadline for determining whether a deal on a future relationship can be reached by the end of 2020.

Mr Michel said the EU wanted a deal, but not at any cost.

He said it was time for Mr Johnson to put his cards on the table.

Mr Michel said “significant steps” needed to be taken by the UK in the coming days if agreement was to be reached.

“The coming days are crucial, this is the moment of truth,” he said.

“There is only one week to go before the European Council on October 15 and 16.”

He added: “I have been very clear with Prime Minister Johnson.

“It’s now for the UK to restore trust and to put all its cards on the table.

“The EU is doing its utmost to find an agreement with the UK, but not at any cost.”

Micheal Martin and Charles Michel (Brian Lawless/PA)
Micheal Martin and Charles Michel (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Michel said the EU stood in solidarity with Ireland in terms of the Brexit negotiations.

“This is especially true when it comes to the full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland,” he added.

“This text has been negotiated for three years, each word, each comma has been debated for hours and hours.

“It has been modified by both parties.

“There is simply no question of its full implementation.”

Mr Martin described the Brexit negotiations as “very challenging”.

But he said it appeared the mood around the talks had changed.

“There’s been more intensified engagement,” he said.

“Mood is one thing but it does need substance to follow the mood…positions need to change.”

Mr Martin said: “There needs to be movement in terms of getting into end-stage negotiations and we feel there’s a lot of work to be done yet on a number of fronts, and it’s quite a challenging task ahead of the negotiators to ensure that an agreement is arrived at.”